Posted by Judy Korn on Wednesday, Sep. 1, 2010
In 2009, the Morris campus, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and ServeMinnesota launched a new program to protect and preserve Minnesota’s environment while developing the next generation of environmental professionals. Minnesota GreenCorps, an environmentally focused AmeriCorps program administered by MPCA, helps communities conserve energy, reduce waste, and, through proper recycling and conservation education, reduce the amount of toxic chemicals discarded.
Chris Droske ’11, Stevens Point, Wisconsin; Will Dolezal ’11, Minneapolis; Sonya Kopet ’12, Starbuck; Jenny Miller ’12, Eagan; and Katie Saddison ’11, White Pigeon, Michigan are the 2010–2011 GreenCorps members through Morris’s Center for Small Towns. Their positions as specialists in local government conservation, school waste prevention, and living green outreach afford opportunities to assess the present and imagine the future. Minnesota GreenCorps is funded through a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service with additional support from ServeMinnesota. Troy Goodnough, sustainability coordinator, oversees the Morris program.
Meet the GreenCorps
2010–2011 team, left to right: Jennifer Miller ’12, Eagan; Chris Droske ’11, Stevens Point, WI; Kate Saddison ’12, White Pigeon, MI; Sonya Kopet ’12, Starbuck; Will Dolezal ’11 Minneapolis; Troy Goodnough, sustainability coordinator
Droske, Chemistry and Environmental Science major: “UMM has done phenomenal work in promoting renewable energy and sustainable living however, these themes need to be comprehensible to all students, not just those with environmental focuses. The future of the campus involves the incorporation of sustainability into the curriculum of all disciplines, while adding additional majors with environmental focuses, such as environmental engineering. The future of our homes involves energy conservation without the sacrifice of comfort. Progressive homeowners will witness increases in utility bills and may consider renewable energy options, such as geothermal or solar photovoltaic. They will observe the same increase and may turn to simple retrofits ranging from $5-$50 which will also significantly lessen their energy consumption. Regardless of political party association or mind set, our communities will accept that energy prices are increasing, and the best way to address these concerns is by incorporating communal renewable energy while decreasing individual consumption.”
Miller, Environmental Studies major: “I am constantly struck by the scope of UMM’s commitment to utilizing sustainable energy technologies, reducing consumption, and recycling or reusing rather than discarding. I also realize, however, that the knowledge or use of many of these programs are localized to the campus, particularly to students and faculty who have a focus on the environment. Part of my mission as a GreenCorps member is to disseminate information about and enthusiasm for these amazing initiatives to the greater campus, community, and county in order to inspire residents to take part in protecting our air, water, and natural resources. Through fostering understanding and enthusiasm, I hope to aid the community in leading better, healthier lives with a lighter impact on the environment, and I believe GreenCorps is vital in taking huge steps toward accomplishing this around the state of Minnesota and the nation.”
Kopet, Environmental Studies major: “I am an Environmental Studies major, expecting to graduate in May of 2012. My main focus is to evaluate and implement recycling in Morris public spaces and parks. I believe I need to build upon what last year’s GreenCorps started. This may or may not be the crowning achievement of my term of service. I have the privilege to focus on many different areas involved in recycling, but I believe every opportunity is a learning opportunity and can be beneficial to future positions. I expect to gain improved interpersonal skills and community awareness as well as project coordination and problem resolution skills. I’ve talked to many people during my time with the UMM GreenCorps. I’m truly impressed with the intelligence and compassion of the caring people I’m working with. This has been a very positive experience.”
Dolezal, Environmental Economics major: “Recycling organics is gaining renewed interest as a waste reduction possibility. Up to 60% of landfill bound trash is organic matter that can be recycled through composting. Properly implemented this cyclical process creates a new usable material out of what was considered trash. Saving space in landfills and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a Waste Prevention and Recycling Member of the Minnesota GreenCorps, I have focused on the benefits that compost can bring to the University, Morris and the at large community. GreenCorps is the perfect stepping-stone between academia and the work force. Real world projects, realistic duties, mentors and an extensive library of resources, GreenCorps forms an interesting merger between academia and the work force. It’s here where you can test skills you’ve developed during your undergraduate degree and develop new ones that will prove to be crucial during your career. Another great feature of GreenCorps is the range of focus that you can have during your service. Within your member description there is complete mobility in the selection and approach of projects. This allows a multitude of options that can be organized to best suit your interests and preferences.”
Saddison, Biology: “I am a biology major, expecting to graduate December 2012. Being a GreenCorps member has been a remarkable experience. GreenCorps has allowed me to take part in many different environmental projects that will ultimately help reduce Morris’s CO2 levels. One of the ways I have been trying to reach this goal is by getting more students and community members biking. In order to do this I have helped implement a silent bicycle auction and repair workshop. I have also had the opportunity to work with the Senior Legacy staff to help find ways to make our UMM BikeShare program more sustainable.
Educational outreach at Prairie Pioneer Days in Morris
Photo: Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs are a good green decision compared to incandescent light bulbs because they use less power and last a lot longer. But CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, which requires careful disposal. It is against the law in Minnesota to dispose CFL bulbs with general waste. To make the use of CFLs more convenient, the Green Corps placed a CFL collection bin at the downtown Morris Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture office. Shown is Laughlin with Karen Arnold, director.
Past GreenCorps Teams
2009–2010 team, left to right: Troy Goodnough, sustainability coordinator, Katie Laughlin ’10, Faribault, Chris Droske ’11, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, Sydney Sweep ’11, Bismarck, North Dakota, Ellie McCann ’10, St. Joseph